Saturday 20 April 2013

The PINK SOFA Welcomes Mandy K James

Mandy K James

Mandy K James is one of the first writers THE PINK SOFA got to know when it first stuck one elegantly carved wooden leg into the Twitter pool last August. She has a rumbustious sense of fun, and sparkling repartee, but is also a caring and loyal friend, supporting other writers and cheering them on from the sidelines. Since THE PINK SOFA asked her its questions about her life and her writing influences, she has successfully launched her latest book, A Stitch In Time, with the wonderfully named Choc Lit, and is currently working on her next book for them. It is an absolute pleasure to welcome her to THE PINK SOFA and there is fizzy French wine and a selection of nice French cheeses on the coffee table to celebrate.

So, Mandy, what sort of books do you write?
Contemporary women's fiction with an element of suspense.

What kick started your writing career?
I have always written  ..well not always, obviously, but since I was about 8. I just loved making up stories and started my first novel in 2001. It was very hard to do alongside a full-time teaching career, but I kept plugging away. I gave up teaching in 2008 and cracked on with what was to be my first published novel, an ebook called Righteous Exposure. I also had lots of short stories published around that time too.

What were your favourite childhood books and why?
Very early on it was all of Enid Blyton's as they were full of adventure and excitement. Later, when I was about 13 it was The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings for similar reasons, but particularly because I felt a real connection to the characters. I really cared about what would happen to them all for the first time I suppose. Tolkien is such a beautiful writer also; I felt I actually could see 'Middle'Earth'.

What writers do you most admire today (can be classical) and why?
Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut, John Steinbeck, Steven King, Dean Koontz, the list is very long. Why? Most of these have a moral message or some meaning in their writing. I don't read nearly enough now, as I tend to be too caught up in writing. But the writer I enjoy most still has to be Dean Koontz. His writing style is just effortless, and he can paint a picture with just a few words. Most writers would need a few pages, also there is always an identifiable baddie and he/she gets his just desserts. I try to do the same in my novels.

Talk to us about your writing process - how do you plan, have a set number of words each day, where do you write?
I am a pantster. I have the bare bones of a story and jot these down, sometimes in bullet points. Then I have a title - can't write without that! Then I just let the characters do the work. I love writing because I'm entertained as I write - I never know what's coming next! I like to write at least 2,000 words each day and usually manage it. I don't have a special writing room or shed, but would love to have one in the future.

From brain to draft - what's your time span?

It varies. My new novel, a time-travelling romantic comedy A Stitch In Time was written in 6 weeks (first draft) but normally around three to four months. When I was teaching, sometimes a year.

What part of the writing process do you find challenging and why?
Mandy's new book
I often get stuck around 30,000 words. I have heard most writers do. (THE PINK SOFA has been known to get stuck 4 lines in...) It's annoying because I have to leave it for a while and think my way round the problem. It's at this point that I worry that I'll have to scrap the lot because it's a load of old pants! Usually it isn't, and I finish it in the end ... usually.

What was your worst experience?
I think the number of rejections over the years. No matter how much you tell yourself that it is just one agent's opinion etc it does tend to punch a big hole in your confidence. The main thing is not to give up, even though you want to.

And your finest?
Getting the offer of a contract from the wonderful Choc Lit Publishing in May of last year. And now seeing my book A Stitch in Time actually in bookshops and online.

A Stitch in Time is available on as both book and ebook.

Visit Mandy's blog:    Tweet her: @akjames61
 Facebook: Mandy James Author Page

Thanks, Mandy! Mandy will be staying around to chat, so do dig into the cheese and wine and ask her some more questions.


  1. Great interview, thank you both.

  2. Hi Mandy!..You're looking very well btw and remarkably composed for someone who's been subjected to the squelchiness of THAT Pink Sofa!..
    Anyway, really enjoyed reading your chat with Carol! When you talk of the characters doing the work...and your being 'entertained' as you write...I think that's essential when it comes to writing because any enthusiasm you exude will be reflected within each page. I firmly believe that in order for the reader to become excited and surprised as the story unfolds, the writer has to be equally as surprised and excited whilst writing....(slightly worrying thought given the dark stuff I like to write!)...
    So, as said, great interview and I'm sincerely looking forward to reading your book...:D

  3. Great post, very interesting. Choc Lit... I love it! The book looks a good read too :)

  4. Hi Mandy,
    Did you find the piece of pizza Carol took from behind my sofa when I interviewed her? It must be a bit hard by now and the green bits won't be olives! Lovely add-on to your previous interview with Carol and good luck with A Stitch in Time. I was going to call my next book that, so I'm going to have to think of another title... and it took me half an hour to come up with that one!
    Lovely interview, Carol, as always.

  5. Great cover! And suspense is always fun.

  6. Thanks for all you lovely comments! And I thought that the Pink Sofa was bouncy rather than squashy, Lynn! Thanks for wanting to read my book too X Thanks, Richard. I didn't find pizza but did find chocolate, a pen and a coin dated 1961. Hope you have luck finding another title. Don't pick Cross Stitch though as that's my sequel! lol Thanks, Kelly and Jo too :) xx

  7. I'm delighted to discover that the PINK SOFA has elegant legs. The rest of it does have a certain je ne sais quoi, blemishes from previous use. However, it has clearly been spruced up for you, Mandy, and you have left only the merest soupçon of chocolat behind you! Lovely interview that I am reading late on Saturday night and enjoying immensely. Teaching and writing are not comfortable bedfellows in my opinion; you'ld better ask Mr. Whizzwithideasthunkupovernightwithoutthought Gove why. Thank you, genuinely, both.

  8. An inspiring journey that has resulted in success, always love to hear those stories. Good luck with your book, thanks Carol for the introduction, love the couch and the car :)

  9. Lovely interview, Mandy. Congratulations Mandy! I love the cover of your book. By the way, your writing method is very similar to mine…I also find myself wondering what's going to happen next.

    1. Oops, that was meant to read 'lovely interview, Carol. Congratulations, Mandy'! So sorry…put it down to this awful cold I've got. It's addling my already addled brain!

  10. Thank you, Christina, Claire and Val for your thoughtful comments. And, Christina you just mentioned the G word! Agghhh! (Gove)

  11. I can't believe how quickly you wrote that book Mandy,I loved it and looking forward to the next one so stop talking to sofas and get on with it,please.

  12. Carol, have you really only been on Twitter since last August? It seems as if I've known you for ages!! Hi Mandy, I loved Enid Blyton too but I have to say I couldn't keep us the pace of 2000 words a day!

  13. Thanks, Mandy, for taking us through your writing process. 2000 words a day! I am so envious! The book looks great and I wish you every success.

    And thanks, Carol, for the cheese. Boy, did I miss good cheese when out in Africa!!

  14. A great interview with Mandy and i'm so pleased her book is doing so well.

  15. Thanks, Rosalind, Catherine and Ian! And re-the 2000 a day. The words are on the page but they might nor be the best :)

  16. Always good to meet a fellow pantser. And sorry about the stains on the sofa. Grumbling and I did our best to get them off.

  17. Its always nice to meet writers and learn from there experiences when you want to be a writer yourself one day. Nice interview, very informative. I do agree with Pink Sofa on the four sentence problem. I face it too,may be its because I never had to write round 30000 words so i am unfamiliar with it. But the four sentence one and me are surely old acquaintances.

  18. Lovely interview. I loved Enid Blyton too. Can't get over your "at least 2000" words a day - wow! Notice there was no mention of cake?!!?!!

  19. Sorry if I left any cake crumbs on the sofa, Mandy. Really enjoyed your interview. We share many favourite writers. Also wholeheartedly agree that though the rejections might be a rite of passage they definitely hurt, no matter how constructively you try to take them.
    Brilliant cover by the way.


  20. Thank you everyone. I have such a lovely time on the sofa, and there is cake in the oven! x

  21. How do you write so quickly? I think you must be twins :-)!

  22. Lovely interview, ladies! Mandy, congrats on your new release.


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